When bad runs go good

Sunday had the makings of a spectacular disaster.

I was tired, I was cranky, I did NOT want to go run. My left knee hurt, my left calf hurt, my right foot had both heel and toe issues and I was just not feeling the run-love.

I sat on the couch all “I don’t want to run. But its Sunday, I have to run. But I REALLY don’t want to. But i’ll regret it if I don’t. GO RUN.”

Instead I took the Gus out, and then changed my outfit because you know, stalling… and finally headed out.

I almost didn’t take my Garmin. I didn’t want to know how slow and hideous my pace was gonna be. But I couldn’t remember exactly how far my loop was, and I needed 12 miles, so instead I promised myself if the pace was truly embarrassing that i’d just delete it.

Sure, I have a half-marathon in two weeks and so I should have been trying for a decent run. But it was warm and slimy-humid and with the list of grievances listed above, I knew I had to just let it go and run easy.

Well, not EASY, but slow. Because nothing was going to be easy.

And as I chugged along I tried to change my brain. I stopped to photograph a random stuffed animal.

And I stopped at a waterfall for a minute. And I kept an eye out for critters and commiserated with some other runners about how hideously humid it was.

It was around mile 8 that things started to turn and my pace got better. I want to blame Sasquatch. (This must be freaky at night!)

But really, it was the ‘incredibly fit couple’ i’d seen a minute before. There they were, dressed in black and muscles, strapping their child into a stroller. They gave a very cheerful hello as I went by. And then, I could hear them behind me. And I was all “Yeah, no. I am NOT getting passed by a stroller on a Sunday run.” LOL

So I surged a bit and it felt good. And I shimmied up the giant hill at mile 9. And I kept going.

At mile 11 I had reached my house and debated going in for water and then doing 2 more miles, or just toughing it out for 1. And was afraid if I went inside i’d stay there. So 12 it was going to be.

And as I headed up my loop and saw the row of sprinklers on, I did a happy dance of joy. With my arms raised and a smile on my face I went straight through. And got soaked. Yay!!

And it made me happy enough that I speed up, and had my fastest mile of the day. A 9:00. I ended a hair under 10/mi overall, so I decided it was save-worthy.

Because it truly wasn’t that slow – it just felt it after how great i’ve been running lately. I have to remember that its summer, and that it means i’m going to get a smidge slower.

Which is okay, because a 2:00 Disney POT and a 2:03 Disney POT will put me in the same corral. So I don’t really need to kill myself on course in Bristol in oh, less than two weeks, if I don’t want to. We’ll wait and see what the weather brings.

For now, i’ll just trudge along and hope for sprinklers!

PS. How awesome is my new shirt? I just can’t resist anything hummingbird.

Hello June!

I’ve been waiting for you. Do you mind bringing along some warmer weather? 🌞

Although really, 50’s ARE nice to run in. But I’m reading for shorts and jimmy buffet music and margaritas on the deck in the sun on Saturday afternoons. 😀

June is a serious training month for me this year.  I’m feeling all recovered from Maine Coast and ready to put in the work and have a great Stars & Stripes challenge weekend (half in Bristol, RI  Jul 1st / 10k at Gillette Stadium July 3rd).

So, I figured I’d set some goals for June. 

  • Log at least 120 miles 🏃🏻‍♀️
  • Speedwork once a week
  • Strength train twice a week 🏋🏻
  • Go to the zoo and see the new red pandas (no, it won’t help my running, but it’s a goal. Lol) 
  • Find a local short race (5k, 10k) for a time trial. 🏅
  • Ride my bike at least twice 🚴🏻‍♀️
  • Stretch more

Sounds reasonable right?  

Do you have any goals for June? Let’s all have an awesome month. 😁

We’re on to July

So…you just ran the Maine Coast Marathon. Now what?

Well, to paraphrase my favorite coach, we’re on to July!

Next up, is a little something i’m calling the “Stars & Stripes Challenge” – a half-marathon and 10k in the same weekend. A shame they aren’t back-to-back days like a good challenge should be, but other than Disney this will be the first time i’ve done multiple races in the same weekend and I think it will be fun.

So, what makes up this challenge?

The first part is the Independence Rhode Race in Bristol, RI on July 1st.

And the second part is the Finish at the 50 10-k in Foxboro, MA on the 3rd. I’ve never run Bristol, although I spent 12 hours on part of its course last summer (the Anchor Down Ultra – Colt State Park) and if you’re going to see downtown Bristol, July 4th weekend is the time to do it. Sure, the race starts “Disney Early”, but it should make it better for running temperature-wise.

Finish at the 50 i’ve done a few times. And there is just something SO magical about the stadium finish. Running up the field to the 50-year line will never not make me smile.

I already have half of my outfit picked. Can’t go wrong with a good sparkle skirt! 

 And I think I know what the tops will be – but that, i’ll share later.

Its going to be fun spending June rebuilding to race. I’ve got that 2:00 i’d love to hit for Disney corral POT and I want to PR the 10K (59:31 for a course PR or 58:28 overall 10K PR – I don’t run a lot of 10k’s and they are always summer. LOL)

Is anyone else running either of these? Would love to know who I might see out there. 🙂 And wish me luck in training – but don’t worry, i’ll keep you posted how it goes!

Race Recap – Blackstone Valley Half-Marathon

Sunday, under slightly cool temps and gorgeous clear blue skies…magic happened.  I ran a 2:00:12 half-marathon.  Unfortunately it was on a 13.47 mile course.  I’ll explain later…

After having the Walt Disney World half cancelled and opting out of the freezing cold Ocean’s Run half I was itching to get out there on a course and see what I could do.

What’s funny is that neither of those were races I was planning to actually ‘race’.  But rather just run for fun.   And i’m not entirely sure when I decided that I was going to full on race Blackstone.  But once I did I went into serious preparation mode.

The few days before were all about hydration and nutrition.  Outfit and playlist. Course review and mental preparation.  Coming up with anything I could to give me that extra boost out there.

I almost never run with music.  Except for #turkeyvisionquest I hadn’t run outside to music in a couple of years.  I’m more of a ‘sounds of nature’ runner.  But again, I knew how using music in November had led to a PR, so I was going to see if it made a difference here.  I created a PEP (performance enhancing playlist) of all my favorite metal and rock songs, and threw in a few new ones from favorite artists (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Airbourne) which turned out to be perfect.

Also… my bib # turned out to be 201. And I got this crazy idea, maybe I could run my number. (I sort of did…)

Sunday morning was literally race perfect.  It was about 46 at the start, blue sky, slight breeze.  The race started/finished right by Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.   Tons of parking right by the start (in fact the hubs was able to sit in the back of our hatchback watching runners fly to the finish) and access to the visitor center and really nice bathrooms were a bonus.

After a beautiful and oddly moving national anthem (maybe it was the way the flag was waving in the wind with the sun shining on it got me…) we were off.  Kickoff playlist song?  Rock & Roll (Zeppelin).  🙂

The course headed south, looped around and headed back past the start.  And this is where it got interesting.   I was tucked in with a crowd and had Robert Plant in my ears and when the group turned, I went with them.  I think I knew in the back of my head it wasn’t right.  But I didn’t question it.  Because racing is pack mentality.  One goes – all go.

Until the race director chased us down to tell us we’d been sent the wrong way and turned us around  (Is this were we tell the course volunteer “you had ONE job”? LOL).  For me?  This ended up with an extra .37 miles that I spent the rest of the race trying to make up for. Turns out the lead runner?  He’d tacked on an extra 3/4 of a mile with the ‘detour’.   And the funniest piece of all this?  The song Plant was singing? Communication Breakdown.

But I was in a very good-natured group.  We joked about “well, I’ve always worried about getting lost on a course.  Now that it’s happened, I don’t have to worry about it”  And “There goes my age group win.”

The rest of the course?  Clearly marked and absolutely beautiful.  Just enough change in elevation to keep it interesting, but not overly challenging.  The only ‘beast’ came around mile 5.  One of those hills where you turn, see it, let out a quick curse word and shimmy to the top.  Only to turn and see it keeps going.  Ugh.   But that hill was followed by a long spectacular downhill with mountain views.   And was great for me for just coasting and resetting for the second half.  And also let me knock off two of my ‘standard race goals’ – high-fiving a kid and barking at a dog.

There isn’t a ton of crowd support out there – tho the water stops were filled with enthusiastic volunteers – but a few people stood on corners or in their yards.   And the sections on the bike path and some cyclists pulled over watching us.

I saw a couple of funny signs “if trump can run you can too”  And a set early on of “just 5 miles to go’ and “she can’t do math” with an arrow pointing to the first sign.  But my favorite sign?  The town sign of Central Falls aka Chocolateville.  Seriously – you can’t go wrong if you’re running through Chocolateville.  LOL

But like I mentioned earlier, I feel like I spent a lot of the race trying to make up for the detour.  I ran that course with determination and strategy.  I cut ALL the tangents and tried to limit any extra steps.   I also watched my pace.  And when I hit the 10k mark in 57 minutes flat (what?? How???) I mentally calculated that I could still pull off my hopes of a sub 2:05 clock time.

Because I was fairly sure that I couldn’t hold this pace forever.  I fully expected that i’d slow down. Because I hadn’t run this fast for this long in…oh I don’t even know.   But then I let it go…and I stopped looking at my watch.  And I let my music and my legs lead me.

And when my watch beeped 13 I looked down…and pushed just a little. And watched myself hit my fastest 13.1 time in nearly two years (since June 2015).  A 2:00:12.

And with my favorite speedwork song playing I gave it everything I had and ran on to that finish.  Saw the hubs right before it and gave him a smile,  a wave and a thumbs up.

And then crossed that line in 2:03:22.  Which still, is my fastest half in two years.  And a darn good Disney POT (LOL). (Side note – that last half mile was an 8:32 pace. Wow!)

Got my shiny medal (seriously – the back of this thing is mirror surface) and a water, and tried to not throw up. (Guess I really was racing all out.  lol  Its not the speed – its the sudden stop that does it.)

I’m feeling really proud of myself for doing so well.  And i’m also feeling this new confidence going into the Maine Coast Marathon.  This half was just what I needed.  

Am I disappointed about this being an ‘extended cut’?  Sure…but its okay.  There’s always another race.  And this was still a great one that I will definitely run again.  Only next time, pack be damned, I am NOT making that right turn.

 

 

Running Goldilocks

I feel like the Goldilocks of half-marathons…. in search of one that’s just right.

See…the first was too stormy and the second one too cold.  Here’s hoping the third one is a perfect fit.

I should be sitting here right now writing a race recap.  And instead, i’m explaining why i’m not.   Essentially its because a windchill of -5 does not make for ideal racing conditions.

After the Walt Disney World Half-marathon got cancelled due to extreme thunderstorms I went in search of a spring half-marathon to ‘check the box’ of a half for the year (gotta hit for the cycle again, of course). Knowing I didn’t want to run Hyannis again this year but needing something that fit into my training plan for the Maine Coast Marathon I discovered the Ocean’s Run Half.

A nice scenic half marathon along the water in Westerly, RI.  Had all the makings of a fun half.  One that I didn’t really train for except getting my distance mileage back after off-season.  I knew that it wouldn’t be one of my best but just a good solid training run.

So as the weekend went on and the temperatures started looking less than ideal I knew i had a difficult decision to make.  Do I suck it up, wake up early, drive 90 minutes to go run in ’11 feels like -3′ with strong winds?  Or do I sleep in, eat waffles and christen my new treadmill with a 20-miler.

I don’t take missing a race lightly.  In my 8 years of racing I had only missed two other half marathons.  One, because I was on crutches and couldn’t run it and the other  because it was free, it was extremely early, and it was already 80 at the start.

I hemmed and hawed.  I still put out a set of extremely warm clothes just in case.  I reached out to a Facebook running group that i’m in (hilariously enough, they were was torn as me.  Half said run, half said don’t.  Most asked about the medal.  LOL) and, when I went to bed was 99% sure I was staying home.

But ah, that 1%.   And when I woke up at 4am I said, let me just go check and see if the weather magically improved.  Noting it hadn’t, I STILL played ‘do I, don’t I’ on the way up the stairs.  At which point I missed the top step, smashed my shin and said to myself “go back to bed moron, you’re not going to the race”  Because clearly we sometimes need the universe to knock some sense into us.

Side note – love my new treadmill.  And netflix and ‘mill is a good way to send a Sunday morning.  Especially since I discovered Ultimate Beastmaster.  Its awesome.

And, from what I found out later, about 50 people opted out.  Including the race photographer.  And that it was an extremely brutal race to where even the fast runners had way slower (like 90 seconds per mile slower) times than usual.  Yeah, I was only going to run this as a ‘fun half’ and that would NOT have been fun. (Plus the medal was fine, but not WOW. So not worth it to me.)

So, as a goldilocks seeking the just right race…I started searching again.  And knowing that there is no way I am taking a chance on another one in March, I looked at April.

Which also means i’ve now totally blown my idea to run only in odd months. Tho I did at least pick one with on an odd date!  April 23rd.  The Blackstone Valley Half-Marathon.

Its in Pawtucket, RI, so WAY closer than Westerly.  Its not too hilly (tho I hear there is one good-sized hill) and it winds along a bike bath that the hubby and I ride on quite a bit (so I know some of the course).  Its three weeks before Maine Coast, so its well-positioned as a time trial for me.  And, plenty of time to train for it as a serious half.  (because, while I have a 2:05 Dopey Corral POT in my back pocket, of course I want a better one.)

So lets home third time’s the charm and that this half is ‘just right’.

 

March Forth!

Well folks, it’s March. And you know what that means?

It means off-season is completely officially over. O V A H, over. 😉 Time to get back to work and start training for all my races. 

No more skiing. No more skipping long runs. No more extra glass of wine on a Saturday night. No more excuses. 

Of course, I do have a race in four days that I’m feeling hideously undertrained for. But I’ll consider it my baseline half and then see how I improve from there.  So if you see me at the Ocean’s Run Half in Westerly RI on Sunday (and I’ll be hard to miss…I’ve got a great outfit planned!) say hi, but don’t expect me to fly. 🙂

I do have some good news tho – on March 4th my new treadmill will arrive. (Sure, now that spring seems to have as well. Lol) and while I will likely still run outside a lot, I think the treadmill (omg I so need to come up with a name for her) will be great for speedwork and hill training. And both running AND watching walking dead on Monday mornings. 😀

Which is good – because it’s only 10 1/2 weeks to marathon #12. And I will be prepared for Maine Coast. 

I did get in a 14 mile run on Sunday. Which, while it felt slow and a little rough, actually turned out to be a decent average pace. Probably because I had some good splits and a way faster second half. 

You see, I have a dream…I’d like Maine to be my second sub 4:30 marathon. I don’t know that I can PR it (I still think my marathon PR was just an amazing dream) but I am certainly going to work hard and try my best. 

For now… spring training is fully underway. In spring weather. I mean I actually ran in a tshirt this morning. Does that mean March is coming in like a lamb? And should I be worried for late March? Tho I won’t…because you can run an 18 miler on a treadmill right? 

Either way…ever forward. 

That’s odd…

So I’ve spent the week trying to find a half-marathon in the next couple months. Something to use as both a corral placement improver for Dopey and as a tune-up/time trial for Maine Coast. 

And as I sat at the table this morning with coffee in hand and a serious case of writers block, instead of blogging, I finally picked a race and registered. For the Ocean’s Run Half. 

One I’ve never done. But it promised flat and fast. Two of my favorite race words. Lol

It’s in March…and I noticed a pattern emerging. 

I seem to be picking all my races in odd months. January (Disney) March (Ocean), May (Maine), September (Adirondack). 

And I think this might be a fun add-on goal for this odd numbered year. Only race in odd numbered months!

So…that means July & November are options. Which actually, now that I think about it, works perfectly.

There’s a couple of 10k’s in July that I like and can choose from. And, I want another chance at that Thanskgiving 5k (turkey vision quest part 2 – the hunt for AG place continues). 

It also means – a heads up to my running friends – please don’t ask me to do races in April, June, August or October.  

Well, at least for now…we’ll see how this goal morphs during the year.  A runner reserves the right to change her mind if the right bling comes along. Lol

Oh and hey, even today is odd. Wednesday the 1st! (Let’s just ignore that it’s an even month.)

Happy February – and happy running!